Pranayama: Breathing Practice

Sit in any comfortable posture like Sukhasana, Siddhasana or Vajrasana (see sketch).

Keep left hand on the left knee. Keep the body and head upright. Close the eyes and relax the body. With the right hand manipulate nostrils as required. Place the thumb on the right nostril and ring finger (one next to the little finger) on the left nostril; the mid and index fingers on the eyebrow center (i.e., between the eyebrows on the forehead). See sketch.

Stage 1: Close right nostril with thumb. Inhale and then exhale through left nostril only. This is one round.

Close left nostril with ring finger, open right nostril. Inhale and exhale through right nostril only.

Left nostril only
Inhale Exhale

Right nostril only
Inhale Exhale

Duration of Count.
One Count = One Second
One Round = One inhale-One exhale

Inhale for 4 counts
Exhale for 4 counts

Duration of practice
Min : 20 rounds
Max : 30 rounds
One round is 8 counts

Left nostril Inhale
Right nostril Exhale

Right nostril Inhale
Left nostril Exhale

Inhale 4 counts
Exhale 4 counts

Duration of practice
Min : 20 rounds
Max : 30 rounds
One round is 8 counts

Stage : 2

Alternate nostril Breathing :
(Nadishodhan Pranayama)

Inhale 4 counts
Exhale 4 counts

longer period
10 20 minutes
One round here is 16 counts
Solid line indicates inhalation dotted line indicates exhalation

Left nostril inhale Right nostril exhale
Right nostril inhale Left nostril exhale

Note : Breathe evenly – without break, strain etc. Exhale first through Left nostril during all practises, and inhale through left nostril. Keep eyes closed. If lot of thoughts disturb keep eyes open; but look at nothing or with half closed eyes; look at either nostrils or eye brow centre.

Caution : Holding-in breath called kumbhaka to be practised only after mastering the above mentioned series; and guidance from a yogi is absolutely necessary to avoid complications.


The pranic passages are cleared of blockage; the blood stream is purified and the brain cells get enough oxygen to stimulate the brain centres. Balances both Ida and Pingala, relaxes body/ mind, leads to meditation.

Vibhaga Pranayama or Sectional Breathing

The best asana for this sadhana is vajrasana. This will keep the back straight allowing the lungs to function in the natural position. Vibhaga Pranayama is Sectional or Lobular Breathing. This is the A, B, C of pranayama and is the beginning of good breath control. Without positive physical control of the three major sections of each lung, real control of lungs will not be possible.

The lungs are divided into three major sections:

1. The lower abdominal area – Adham
2. The mid or intracostal area Madhyam
3. The higher or clavicular area – Adyam

Abdominal Breathing-(Adham)

1. The aim is to control the lower lobes of the lungs. Place one hand on the diaphragm region. Hold the other hand in ‘Chin Mudra’ positioning on the thigh comfortably. Breathe deeply in and experience the expansion of the stomach by the movement of the hand. One round is one breathing-in and one breathing-out.
Repeat 6 rounds.

2. Place the hands on the outside of lower ribcage (Stomach region). Breath in and breath out feeling the expansion on the sides.
Repeat 6 rounds.

3. Turn the hands around the back, directing the fingers towards the spine. Breathe in and breathe out.
Repeat 6 rounds.


It is the natural form of breathing governed by the autonomic part of the nervous system. It governs the flow of prana, below navel and therefore it corrects various types of negative conditions such as vericose veins, cold feet, water retention, piles and menstrual flow. When any of the above conditions exist,.minimum of 6 minutes of Adham pranayama has to be done twice daily.

Middle breathing -(Madhyam)

The aim is to control the breath in the middle lobes. To perfect Mid-breathing mental concentration is required. A great deal of training is required to be able to breathe easily around and behind the heart. Place one hand on the chest, and the other on the thigh in Chin-maya mudra. Breathe deeply in and breathe out and experience the movement of the breath.
Repeat 6 rounds.


The action of the breath diminishes the fat around the heart, which accumulates due to faulty breathing. This is an excellent way to prevent heart diseases; for those already affected, a lot of comfort can be obtained by doing this. Those having heart problems must practice 6 minutes twice a day.

Upper breathing – (Adyam)

The aim is to control the high superior lobes of the lungs.

1.Place one hand on the upper chest just below the collar bones. Keep the other hand in Adi-mudra on the lap conveniently. Breathe in and out deeply. If the elbow is raised slightly, the experience will be more intense.
Repeat 6 rounds.

2. Place hands on the waist and keep arms slightly open to allow the armpit to be exposed. Breathe in and out experiencing the expansion of the superior lobes.
Repeat 6 rounds.

3. Raise the arms over the shoulders and place the palms on the high back area, so that the elbows are together side by side. Concentrate on the high back lobes and breathe in and out deeply for 6 rounds.


Since this type of breathing is not controlled by autonomic system, it requires conscious effort to breathe in this area. Since upper breathing governs the flow of prana into the high chest area, many allergic conditions are overcome. Persons with asthma, and/or difficult breathing, will get relief immediately. A minimum of 6 minutes practice is necessary where the above conditions exist.

Complete or Deep Breathing – (mahat yoga)

This is a type of “complete breathing”, alternately known as ‘Deep Breathing’. It should not be confused with abdominal or diaphragm breathing.

In Mahat yoga pranayama, the incoming breath enters the lowest part of the lungs by the downward movement of the diaphragm, then the air moves up into the midchest due to the expansion of intercostal muscles in the chest region, finally tilling up the upper part of the lungs (upper chest) which is called clavicular breathing.

Breathing out to be done in the same sequence.

To gain positive control over this breathing, place one hand on the diaphragmatic area, the other at the mid chest.
With the hands in position, start a slow, deep and long breath to the abdominal area, then continuing into the mid chest.
Commence with counting 1,2 … in each are so that a total count of six (2*2*2) is obtained.
Later that can be increased to 3*3*3 and finnaly to 4*4*4*

Mahat yoga with Mudra (also called Vishnu Mudra)

Keep both hands in adi – mudra at chest level, palms facing down, both knuckles together

(1) Slowly roll down the hands from the chest towards the navel centre, making the palms facing upwards, knuckles still together

(2) Hold at navel centre and breathe in and out 6 times. Relax in Shavasana.a

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